On August 11th, the Vancouver WhiteCaps announced that they had named a head coach for their new youth academy in London, Ontario: Alan Alderson. If that name seems incredibly familiar, it's because he is the head coach of the UNBC Timberwolves Men's soccer team. Alderson has been the coach of the UNBC team for the past 3 seasons, helping the program transition to the CIS from the lower tier CCAA. The Smoke Show had the privilege of having the esteemed coach in the studio for an interview before he heads off to greener pastures.
During the interview Alderson expressed that, although he is extremely excited to be starting this new chapter of his coaching career, it is bitter sweet for him. He has taken a team that struggled to fill out their roster to a team that is on the verge of doing great things. His development of the program is noticeable on and off the pitch. On the pitch, the team is way more competitive than in years past, they won 3 games last year and are poised to challenge for the Canada West title this year. The players went from moderate skill and drive, to some of the greatest young Canadian talent that Coach Alderson has had the pleasure of teaching. Off the field, the coach of more than 20 years experience had to take a program that has very little resources and little to offer prospective players to now a desirable place to play; akin to the transition made by the PG Cougars. When asked what the biggest resource UNBC had, he simply said "Me". This response is not one of arrogance or ego, but rather a response to the immaturity of the program compared to the rest of the teams in the CIS. Another huge reason why players would pick UNBC over other schools is that younger players have more playing time than they would get in other schools. If a player would go to the likes of UBC or UViC, they would be on the bench for at least a year of two before seeing any time on the pitch. This kind of development is terrible for the mental as well as physical part of the game. Coach Alderson has created an environment of acceptance and drive to be the best possible player you can be without sacrificing education as the team had 6 players on the CIS academic team. So, where does the UNBC program go from here.
Here's where the rant really comes because UNBC has some huge shoes to fill. They had one of the best developers of talent in all of Canada at their finger tips and now he is gone. The fact that the majority of the program was built by his two hands is something that will not be easy to replace. Their is a culture to the team that the next coach has to come in and try to form into.This is not the case of a coach needing to come in and fix aspects of the program, but one that can work with the framework already set in place and continue its development. As Coach Alderson said during his interview with The Smoke Show, the next coach can almost come in collect a pa ycheck without needing to change a whole lot of things. Part of the culture that was created has to do with players taking responsibility for their action and become a group of leaders instead of a group of individuals trying to play together. The off-field aspect of the program is the one that might take the biggest hit. Even though UNBC still has the draw of more playing time than other universities, they no longer have the recognizable name at the coaching position and the charisma that that Alderson had when recruiting new talent. Sometimes change can be exciting and good, but this change might have some growing pains before we see some light. The short term ramifications of this change of guard will not be felt because the team that has been put together is as dynamic as any in the CIS, but the long-term future of the UNBC soccer program is very much in the air. Fans should be cautiously optimistic about this season and the future of the Timberwolves.
I am Smoke Stark and this has been my rant on Coach Alan Alderson leaving the UNBC Timberwolves and the crater of a whole that is left with his departure. Thank you very much for reading and Alderson's Art is Coaching and He is About to Paint His Masterpiece.